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Ralph Baker v. Jim Barnes

January 12, 2012

RALPH BAKER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JIM BARNES, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Joel A. Pisano

OPINION

PISANO, District Judge:

Ralph Baker, a prisoner who is confined at New Jersey State Prison, submitted to the Clerk a pro se Complaint with an incomplete application to proceed in forma pauperis. He then completed his in forma pauperis application and submitted an Amended Complaint. This Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, direct the Clerk to file the Amended Complaint, assess the $350.00 filing fee against Plaintiff, and collect the fee in installment payments pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.*fn1 As required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, this Court will dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings this Amended Complaint against University of Medicine & Dentistry, Dr. Elmira Kaputis, Dr. John Godinsky, Kevin Han McDonald, Ombudsman Elizabeth Tobol, Sharon Felton, dentist Rick Ogwreck, Dr. Raymond Baum, Dr. Edward Szteinbaum, Fordham University, and Tina Maschi (Dkt. 7, caption), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986, for "denial of medical treatment, concerning Hepatitis C, deliberate indifference, to medical needs[, i]ncluding manufacturing false medical needs. In addition to Interference with Habeas Corpus and the enforcement of the Federal Judiciary enforcement of acts of the United States Congress, via toward mal treatment of non existent mental disease and/or defect, implication of unsound mind, and emotional distress. Declaring that Petitioner mental app[a]ratus being unsound, and the need of independent mental health analysis, and enhancement of current non solicited treatment plan." (Dkt. 7 at 1.)

II. STANDARD FOR DISMISSAL

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires the Court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The PLRA requires the Court to sua sponte dismiss any claim if the Court determines that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A claim is frivolous if it "lacks even an arguable basis in law" or its factual allegations describe "fantastic or delusional scenarios." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989); see also Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990).

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009), hammered the "final nail-in-the-coffin" for the "no set of facts" standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957),*fn2 which was previously applied to determine if a federal complaint stated a claim. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009). To survive dismissal under Iqbal, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.' A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.' " Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citation omitted). The plausibility standard "asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief," and will be dismissed. Id. (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The Third Circuit instructs that, to determine the sufficiency of a complaint under the pleading regime established by Iqbal, a court must take three steps: First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1947. Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id. at 1950. Finally, "where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief." Id.

Santiago v. Warminster Township, 629 F. 3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010); see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-211 (3d Cir. 2009) ("a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts") (emphasis supplied).

The Court is mindful, however, that the sufficiency of this pro se pleading must be construed liberally in favor of the plaintiff, even after Iqbal. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007).

III. DISCUSSION

A court's initial task is to "tak[e] note of the elements [Plaintiff] must plead" in order to state a claim of liability. See Iqbal, 129 S Ct. at 1947-48. Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code authorizes a person such as Plaintiff to seek redress for a violation of his federal civil rights by a person who was acting under color of state law. Section 1983 provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. To recover under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show two elements: (1) a person deprived him or caused him to be deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) the deprivation was done under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 4 ...


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